Glen Scotia 2002-2015, 13yo, 58.1% – SMWS (93.67)

I got a sample of this in a share ages ago, and when selecting things to take with me on holiday for a bit of a drink at night, I grabbed it off the shelf finally. Contrary to previous years in which I just brought tail ends of bottles, I decided to go through some samples instead.

Ever since visiting Glen Scotia in April, that distillery has been on my radar far more than before. I’m not sure why that is, but I don’t mind to have another distillery on the watch list. There’s no way I can keep up with everything, so one more options doesn’t hurt if you have to let go 99% of the things you find interesting.

Anyway, a 13 year old from a refill bourbon cask sounds incredibly random, but I found this surprisingly good.

Scotia

Image from Ben’s Whisky Blog

Sniff:
Barley and straw, with a very typical light funkiness. Very Glen Scotia. It gets warmer with a couple of minutes, with scents of fresh pastries. Apple, orange and oak.

Sip:
Much more sweet than expected, with pastries, candied orange, oak and some spicy sharpness. Hints of pepper, freshly cut wood, and turmeric.

Swallow:
Very classical with warm barley, porridge, oak and orange. Slightly funky like on the nose.

Well, this ticks all the boxes of a teen Glen Scotia, and it reminds me quite a bit of the Mashman’s Reserve I picked up at the distillery. I love that it has a light funkiness to it, because it really makes it stand out from the barrage of random bourbon cask whiskies that are flooding the market. A lot of it is good, but not something you’ll remember in a while.

It tastes older than it actually is. Very good stuff!

88/100

Glen Scotia 2002-2015, 13yo, Refill Bourbon Barrel, 58.1%, SMWS (93.67 – Wine like the wind is sweet)

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Daftmill 2006, Summer Release, 46%

Daftmill is a very strange company. I think it’s the most old fashioned whisky distillery in Scotland, based on the limited information that I have.

They’re a working farm, and distill in the slower seasons, with their own barley. Also, they had the means and common sense to only release their whisky when it was ready. Contrary to most other new distilleries that start by producing gin and vodka, and start churning out regular releases and private casks as soon as 3 years have passed (Kilchoman, Wolfburn, anyone?). This churning out releases is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does trouble my vision when trying to find something new to enjoy in the shop.

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Image from ScotchWhisky.com

Anyway, Daftmill. They released their very first whisky earlier this year, and I missed it. It sold out in minutes and while I tried getting one later, it sold out while it was in my shopping cart (this obviously is online).

The summer release, while a bit slower before it got some traction has long gone as well. It was released some four weeks ago, for £ 95, and is currently up to £ 312 on Whiskybase’s Marketplace. I’m glad I got a bottle for the initial price.

I didn’t want to risk missing it again, so I ordered it as close to the source as I could, at Berry Brothers and Rudd. This is one of the most ancient of booze peddlers in the United Kingdom and that shows. They don’t ship internationally if the order is less than 100 pounds. They charge a whopping 32 pounds for shipping across the North Sea, and it took more than a week before it was even sent off. Let’s say that webshop wasn’t on my radar before this Daftmill, and it has now been removed from it again.

Anyway, the whisky. The initial release was 12 years old, and this one is too. Distilled in 2006 and released in July of this year. It matured in a first fill bourbon barrel and was bottled at 46% (the first one was at cask strength).

20180817_210421.jpgSniff:
A strange combination of herbs, grass and sweetness. A bit like a custard with some rosemary. Sligtly mineral like, with a lot of forward barley. Rather unique. It gets more spirity after a few minutes.

Sip:
More spices and some sharpness here. White oak, lots of barley and a bit of sweetness. Boiled apples, and cinnamon.

Swallow:
Light and spicy on the way down. Fresh orchard fruits, some oak and a bit of warmth.

This feels like it’s an honest whisky. Carefully selected from casks without wanting to blend towards some spectacular flavor, which seems to happen all too often. This feels a lot more like ‘we take it as it comes’. And I love it for it.

It’s light, and grassy and truly tastes like a Lowlands whisky, which also is a rather rare thing with Auchentoshan being a bit strange in their triple distillation, and Glenkinchie being way too sweet and simplistic. Of course, there’s Ailsa Bay, but that’s a strange one too, and Annandale which I have not tried yet (their initial 3 year old sold for £ 300…)

I am sure going to keep my eyes on Daftmill, because this distillery is going places!

89/100

Daftmill 2006, 12 years old, 1st Fill Bourbon casks, Summer Batch Release, 46%

Available here.

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Good whisky and good times at the Lufthansa First Class Terminal

To keep the posts flowing, I’ve come to realize that guest posts are a helpful thing. If I’m not mistaken, it has only happened once before, in eight years time. Today sees the second one.

My friend Shai, sometimes mentioned on the blog in the more anonymous ‘DSA’ form is an American living in Vienna. He flies around a lot for work and in a more private setting. Because of that, he sometimes has the chance to visit a whisky lounge in this or that airport. Which he then reviews.

Here’s his take on the “Lufthansa First Class Terminal Whisky Lounge“. Enter Shai


I spend a lot of time in airport lounges, and I thought that whisky drinkers might want to know what their best options are in case they find themselves in a similar situation. I previously wrote about the new whisky bar in Zurich airport.

Today, it’s Frankfurt’s turn.

What: Lufthansa First Class Terminal
Where: separate building near a taxi stand, follow signs for First Class Terminal
How to get there: arrive directly. Or, if on a layover, you can exit the airport and walk a few hundred meters. However, the best way to get there by far is by Porsche- on really long layovers, Lufthansa will give you the keys to a 911 for three hours to drive like a nutjob on the autobahn.

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Who has access: Lufthansa/Swiss First Class (connecting to or from), Miles and More HON.

After a valet takes the keys to your Porsche, you are assigned a personal assistant. He/she then escorts you through a private security screening, and takes your passport to the immigration authorities (who you never actually see, your passport simply reappears stamped). That’s it- 30 seconds, and you are free to enjoy the lounge’s whisky bounty. No need to keep track of time, your assistant will come get you when it’s time to board.

Even in first class lounges such as this, the selection is usually limited to Johnny Walker Blue Label and other cheaper, uninteresting blends. Not here! Gaze upon the whisky bounteousness:

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No, you won’t find any single cask Springbanks, but among regular production whisky, there are many fine examples on offer. I noticed quite a few bottles I love: Glengarioch 12, Highland Park 12 and 18, most of the Compass Box line, a fair amount of Glenfarclas, and many more. Too bad I only had 3 hours!

There is also a cigar lounge, which has its own small bar. This had a few bottles not found in the main bar, including Hibiki Harmony and my beloved Delamain Pale and Dry. You can bring in whisky from the main bar if these don’t meet your approval. And of course, you won’t find whisky served in tumblers here. Spiegelau nosing glasses are provided, as they are in Zurich.

I retired to the cigar lounge for a nice Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2, accompanied first by Glenmorangie Signet. Signet is on my list of whiskies that I love that I would never pay for, as it’s a malty crowd pleaser priced like a fine old single cask. I had one more NAS dalliance in the form of the Hibiki, which I found full of tannins and sweetness. Unpleasant, and no minerally “river rocks” flavor that I am used to from the 17 year old. I spent the rest of the afternoon with my old friend Glenfarclas 25, which I took with me everywhere- even the bathtub.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Screw this guy, I’m not spending 8000 EUR on a plane ticket so I can drink Glenfarclas 25 year old.” And you’re right, I am not advocating buying a cash first class fare just to get access to good booze.  The simple fact, however, is that this lounge is really quite accessible.  First, if you fly a ton for work and have the highest Lufthansa status, you can access all the First Class ground infrastructure even if flying in the last row next to the toilets.  Second, anyone with some Avianca, Air Canada, or United miles can book a Lufthansa First Class itinerary for a song (I’ve excluded worse deals- ironically, it’s never worth it to book with Lufthansa miles). On this itinerary, I paid only about $19 in taxes, which could have been as high as $240 had I used Aegean miles. I’m sure you’ll agree that even $240 is not bad for First Class!  And for those trying to figure out which routes have the best amenities, whisky drinkers could do a lot worse than Lufthansa.

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Balblair 1996-2018, 54.4% – OB for La Maison du Whisky

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The image from the website, which isn’t the actual bottle.

I love Balblair. I liked them before, but ever since I visited them in 2013, I really loved them. However, I somehow barely ever buy a bottle. Some, but not a lot. Which I tried to remedy a little bit with a sample from this heavily sherried unit bottled for La Maison du Whisky.

LMdW, as it is known, is not a cheap shop. They’re in Paris, which is not a cheap city, which is a bit of an excuse. However, when they bring out a private bottling, you know you’re going to pay for it. Having said that, they do generally bottle some awesome quality hooch.

So, a heavily sherried Balblair from 1996 with 21 or 22 years of aging to it. I was enthusiastic about it right away. I’m not entirely sure what I paid for the sample, but it is still available for 185 euros, which I think is a fairly okay price for this kind of whisky.

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Now this has some color to it!

Sniff:
Lots of sweet sherry and coarse oak. Cigars, wood spices, clove and cinnamon. Some slight bitterness and some dried plums and coffee.

Sip:
A lot of pepper and sharpness. Bitter oak and sherry. Dried plums, coffee, with a lot of spice. Cinnamon, clove, pink peppercorns. Very intense.

Swallow:
Dry and surprisingly spicy. Full on on the cigars and oak. Some earthiness, with cinnamon, clove and dark rye bread.

Having tried this whisky over a couple of sittings, I can confirm that the 185 euros for it is justified. Even though I don’t want to spend any money right now, I am considering clicking the buy button. I won’t, but if you’re in the game of spending this kind of money on whisky, this is not a bad buy at all.

Highly recommended!

91/100

Balblair 1996-2018, 1st fill Spanish Oak Butt Finish, cask 022, 54.4%, OB for La Maison du Whisky. Available for € 185

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The sound of silence…

Sooo, it’s been insanely quiet here.

I don’t think there ever has been more than a week of nothing before, but now it’s up to three weeks. This happened because of summer holidays for the last two weeks. Before that, I was insanely busy with work and some side projects that took all the time I was willing to sit behind a screen.

My plan for now is to start picking up blogging a bit more from now on, so I can (hopefully) get back three posts per week or so.

During the last two weeks I spent camping in Burgundy I somehow ended up drinking quite some okay-ish beers from random supermarkets. I did bring some whisky samples that I had scattered around the house for ages. Strangely, in one of the best known wine regions of the world, I only drank a single bottle of wine in two weeks.

So my intention is to pick up the pace a little bit compared to last year(s) in which I only wrote a bit once or twice per week. Fingers crossed I can find the motivation/focus/drive to do so.

Some booze realizations I’ve done over the last couple of weeks:

  • I really don’t like the flavor of Campari. That stuff is vile.
  • Marc de Bourgogne is not something to not drink for two years. I opened my bottle two years ago and it has gone completely flat.
  • In the world of beer, price is no longer an indicator of quality. There are some many breweries trying to cash in on the hype and most of it is only so-so. This is making me kind of jaded in regards to buying all kind of 5-euro-or-more bottles of average IPA or too light stout.
  • I still like whisky the most.
  • Mezcal is too expensive for what it is. I’ve not bought any for a few years and I barely drink it, but a random bottle clocks in for a hundred or more bucks here, which is just too much.

That’s it for now.

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Glen Mhor 1963, 25 years old, 40% – Sestante

I only got this sample of ‘Fine Old Highland Malt’ yesterday from whisky buddy BvdP. He told me to taste the whisky before looking up what it was, and on the label it only had the Whiskybase ID of the bottle.

So I did just that, I only just looked it up now and tried it yesterday. Maybe not very surprisingly, there’s some names I recognize in the list of member ratings on Whiskybase.

Glen Mhor is one of the three distilleries that used to grace Inverness (the other two being Glen Albyn and Millburn). All of them have been closed down and either demolished or turned into something else. A shame for such a city to have no distilleries. Maybe even more surprising is that no one has tried to cash in on the ‘proud distilling history of Inverness’ by opening a new 13-to-a-dozen distillery yet.

Anyway, a 1963 Glen Mhor, at 25 years old. It makes for a bottling around 1988, which means this is an oldie in both ways that can be interpreted. Quite some age, and bottled a long time ago.

Sniff:
The nose first has a rather heavy scent, but that’s mostly OBE (Old Bottle Effect). It’s gotten a bit musty over the decades it’s been locked up. With a bit of oxygen it gets a lot more fresh, with a hint of star anise. There’s lots of old oak, barley and a whiff of smoke. Tropical fruit too, lots of it.

Sip:
The palate continues the fruitiness with some oak and a herbaceous edge. Oak, and herbs like thyme, but very gentle. Barley, with a creamy texture, crusty bread. Even though there’s no vanilla it does have that custard like texture and creaminess.

Swallow:
The finish is, not surprisingly, very smooth and gentle. Fruity with some barley and herbs. Very light with pear and papaya.

Unfortunately I have very limited experience with Glen Mhor, especially from this era. After tasting this I can’t help thinking that’s something I should remedy (this is the second on the blog, I think). This is a very impressive dram, with lots of different flavors going on.

Keep in mind that this is ancient and only 40%, so if you’re one that generally goes for bit whiskies with big flavors and big ABVs, you won’t really enjoy this one, I think. It’s an exercise in subtlety, with all flavors sticking their head out every now and then. One that needs attention but doesn’t demand it. An introvert whisky, if you will.

90/100

Glen Mhor 1963, 25 years old, 40%, Sestante

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Ardmore 2013-2018, 4yo, 57.2% – Cadenhead’s Warehouse Tasting

Last April I finally participated in a Cadenhead’s Warehouse Tasting. These tastings are legendary among whisky lovers and somehow I had never done one, until three months ago that is.

You might have read my shameful post about accidentally blending scraps of the Glen Scotia and Glenlossie I bought there, which sucked majorly. Luckily that wasn’t all I got, since there also was this wee Ardmore.

Mitch, who hosted the tasting and is also coming to Maltstock, wanted to surprise us with this, but chalk letters on the side of the cask stating ‘Ardmore’ kind of spoiled that surprise. After giving us a dram and asking for a guess to the age, I felt something was up. People were guessing 15 and 16 years old, but I figured he was tricking us and I went down a lot, to nine years old. I was still more than 100% off (if calculated from the actual age. If done the other way around, I was more than 50% off). A four year old Ardmore was in our glass.

Everybody loved it. All five of us on the tasting. Especially at a bottle coming in at 40 pounds, this was a steal.

20180703_212607.jpgSniff:
It’s sharp, but more like 52% than 57% sharp. There’s a whiff of vanilla and some good old Highland peat smoke coming through. Grass and hay, with custard for a bit of sweetness. Apple pie too, so I’m currently craving a proper apple crumble, or a strudel or something.

Sip:
It’s slightly sharp on the arrival, but it mellows quickly to a more warming glow. It’s still quite spirity but I think the oak has been very active to have imparted this amount of wood, sweetness and vanilla on it in four years. Even though vanilla is one of the main contributors, it’s doesn’t distract from the spirit and the gorgeous smokiness in it.

Swallow:
On the finish it gets a bit more sooty, and there are more hints of charcoal and peat than before. So, more the remains of smoke than actual smoke. Slightly bacon like, maybe? Still vanilla and apple sauce, and oak.

Well this isn’t the new best thing ever, it is a very, very good whisky for a very decent price at a ridiculously young age. For forty quid, you can’t really go wrong with a nice Ardmore at cask strength. Even if it is only four years old.

87/100

Ardmore 2013-2018, 4yo, Bourbon Hogshead, 57.2%, Cadenhead’s Warehouse Tasting.

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